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Lincoln Aviator Recall

DETROIT, Dec 3, 2002; Reuters reported that in its first month on sale, Ford Motor Co. has had to recall its Lincoln Aviator luxury sport utility vehicle to fix a faulty transmission part.

While the action affects only 25 vehicles in the United States, it does add to a record of recalls on newly launched vehicles that Ford has worked hard to erase.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the recall involved a transmission shift cable that could come loose from its bracket, causing the shifter to show the wrong gear.

Ford spokesman Glenn Ray said on Tuesday the company was aware of only one Aviator with the problem that was delivered to a customer. The rest were still on dealers' lots when the problem was discovered.

Ford has been using a "batch-and-hold" system for its new vehicle launches, where it runs extended tests on new vehicles to ensure there are no problems before sending them to dealers. It switched to the system after the Ford Escape SUV and the Ford Focus suffered recalls shortly after they went on sale.

Ray said unsold Aviators have already been repaired.

Ford executives have said improving quality at the world's second-largest automaker was an essential part of their turnaround plan, aimed at producing $7 billion in annual pre-tax profits by mid-decade.

Lincoln sold 690 Aviators in November. The Aviator is based on the popular Ford Explorer SUV, but uses several different components.